A Quick Overview of 20th (and 21st) Century World History to end Core C

Sonlight’s Core C only covers world history through 1914 on the eve of World War I. They do this because they feel that the 20th century has a lot of dark times, and it’s best studied at a later date.

I don’t object to this, but I do think it’s possible to do a short overview of the 20th century, without going into too many details about the darker times. So I’ve decided to throw in a whirlwind tour of the 20th century to finish off Core C, when we get there. I’m trying to hit some of the major events of the 20th century.

My list isn’t perfect, because some major events just didn’t have the greatest picture book coverage (the Korean War, for example). I didn’t want to be bogged down in nonfiction books that would take us several days to complete, so my preference was for historical fiction picture books that could be read in 1-2 sittings, although I included some chapter books that looked suitable, due to age/grade recommendations and reviews on Amazon, for my older daughter to read on her own.

So, that said, here’s my rough draft of the 20th century:

Turn of the Century:

I Survived #5: I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
American Girl books: Samantha
I Survived #1: I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic

World War I:

See Inside the First World War
Christmas in the Trenches
Knit Your Bit: a World War I story
American Girl books: Ruth

Flu Epidemic:

Christmas Oranges (Bethers) ? Not sure if right flu outbreak

Great Depression:

Born and Bred in the Great Depression
Rose’s Journal (Moss)
Potato: a Tale from the Great Depression
American Girl books: Kit

Amelia Earhart:

Mysterious Journey: Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

World War II:

I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor
See Inside the Second World War
American Girl books: Molly
I Survived #9: I Survived the Nazi Invasion

Post WWII Europe:

A New Coat for Anna

Berlin Airlift:

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

Korean War:

My Freedom Trip: a Child’s Escape from North Korea

Civil Rights:

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
The Story of Ruby Bridges (Coles)

Race to the Moon:

Man on the Moon (Suen)
Handshake in Space

Vietnam War:

The Wall (Bunting)
American Girl books: Julie

End of the Cold War:

Border Breakdown: the Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Yugoslavian War:

Cat from Kosovo
Drita, My Homegirl

September 11th:

I Survived #6: I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001

Japanese Tsunami:

I Survived #8: I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

20th Century as a whole:

Fantastic Flights: One Hundred Years of Flying on the Edge

This last book covers all of the 20th century, from the first heavier-than-air flight in 1903 to modern aircraft. I’ll do it last, as I think it will be a fun look back at a particular technological innovation of the 20th century. I’m hoping that doing this overview quickly, plus looking at the amazing speed at which flight developed, will help give a sense of how fast the day-to-day world changed during the 20th century, and how that compares to the pace of technological change in the ancient world.

I ran into the fact, recently, that Cleopatra (1st century BC) lived closer to the time when man first walked on the moon (1969 AD), to when the pyramids were built (2400 BC). That’s pretty amazing, and gives you a good idea of how slow change was back then (we tend to lump all of “ancient Egypt” together without much sense of the different periods of Egyptian history).

Elsewhere in the list, the American Girl books and the I Survived books are all chapter books that I’ll have Emily read on her own. She’s already read all the American Girl books, but she won’t mind a reread and I think reading them in historical context might be really interesting. I’ll probably have her reread *all* of the American Girl books during Cores D and E, since they cover American History. But the ones I included from the 20th century (Samantha, Ruth, Kit, Molly, and Julie) would all be in Core E (the second half of American history), so she wouldn’t be rereading them again for two years.

I hope this list might be helpful if anybody else wants to do the same!

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